US leads attack on Syria over chemical attack allegation, just before OPCW inspectors were set to verify whether the attack actually took place.
By Pavan Kulkarni / The Dawn News / April 14, 2018
Hours before inspectors from Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were set to arrive for investigation at the site of the alleged chemical attack on April 7 in Douma, United States President Donald Trump, along with allies, had attacked Syria. The U.S, U.K and France, without waiting for the inspectors to confirm whether or not the said chemical attack actually took place, carried out a joint operation in which more than a hundred missiles were launched into Syria early this morning at 4 a.m Syrian time.
According to U.S defense officials, at least three U.S warships launched Tomahawk missiles and a British submarine launched cruise missiles from the Mediterranean sea. Long-range missiles were also launched by manned warplanes of U.S, Britain and France, the New York Times reported .
None of the Russian bases in the Syria or the areas nearby were targeted. Though U.S Joint Chief of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, has claimed that U.S did not coordinate with or alert the Russian government about the strikes, Florence Parly, the French defense minister, has said that France and its allies had ensured that the “Russians were warned ahead of time,” AP reported .
Most of the missiles were successfully intercepted by the Syrian forces using S-125, S-200, Buk, Kvadrat and Osa air defense systems. “According to available information, a total of 103 cruise missiles were fired… The Syrian air defense systems, basically comprising Soviet-made weapons, successfully repelled the strikes by aircraft and naval ships. A total of 71 missiles were intercepted,” Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi, Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Department, has said . Three civilians have reportedly been injured as “missiles targeting a military installation near Homs were disrupted and exploded”, according to a report.
The ostensible reason given for the attack on Syria was the alleged use of chemical weapons by the government forces in the city of Douma. The Syrian government, however, has denied the allegation, and called it a fabrication to lay the groundwork for further foreign aggression against the country.
The videos purporting to show that chemical weapons were dropped by the Syrian planes were clearly fabricated, Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, told the Security Council two days after the alleged attacks.
“The Istanbul-based opposition journalist Asaad Hanna posted a video on his Twitter feed that was allegedly from the area of the incident. In it, an unidentified individual in a gas mask, presumably from the White Helmets, is posing against a backdrop of a homemade chemical bomb that allegedly landed in a bedroom in a building in Douma. It is accompanied by commentary about what it calls another of the regime’s attacks on civilians. There can be no doubt that this production was staged. The trajectory of the alleged bomb is entirely unnatural. It fell through the roof and landed gently on a wooden bed without damaging it in any way and was clearly placed there before the scene was shot.”
The soil samples collected from the region by Russian radiological, chemical and biological protection specialists, “showed no presence of nerve agents or substances containing chlorine,” he said, adding, “not one local confirmed the chemical attack. At the local hospital, no one with symptoms of sarin or chlorine poisoning had been admitted.. No bodies of people who had died from being poisoned were found, and the medical staff and residents had no information about where they might have been buried. Any use of sarin or chlorine in Douma is therefore unconfirmed.”
Pointing out that the “representatives of the Syrian Red Crescent refuted statements allegedly made on their behalf about providing assistance to victims of toxic gases,” he alleged that the “footage was.. clearly staged by the White Helmets.” Demanding that the OPCW mission “immediately visit Douma and the area of the alleged chemical weapons attack, interview the residents and medical staff and collect soil samples,” the Russian representative assured that the “Syrian authorities and the Russian military will ensure the necessary conditions so that the OPCW experts can travel to the site of the alleged incident and familiarize themselves with the situation.”
However, hours before OPCW inspectors were scheduled to arrive at the site, attacks were already launched by the U.S, Britain and France, after announcing that the three countries had come to the conclusion on their own that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack.
This attack on Syria came only two days after the U.S Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, expressed doubts about the chemical attack and its source. Pointing out that the U.S military is still “assessing the intelligence” regarding the alleged attack, Mattis said , speaking to members of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday: “There have been a number of these attacks. In many cases, you know we don’t have troops, we’re not engaged on the ground there, so I cannot tell you that we had evidence, even though we had a lot of media and social media indicators that either chlorine or sarin were used.”
Opposing this attack on Syria, based on unsubstantiated accusations against the Syrian government of using chemical weapons, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) has called for protests that will be held on April 14 and 15 across dozens of cities in the U.S.
Across the Atlantic, campaigners from Stop the War Coalition (STWC) have staged a protest yesterday outside P.M Theresa May’s residence in London, and submitted a letter signed by numerous politicians, academics and trade unionists, urging her to not participate in the U.S-led attack on Syria. “[F]urther military intervention, as proposed by Trump, May, or Macron, is not the solution,” the letter said.